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Notre Dame Fighting Irish

AP Women’s College Basketball Poll 2018: Notre Dame Unanimous No. 1 over UConn | Bleacher Report

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 01:  Arike Ogunbowale #24 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is congratulated by her teammates Marina Mabrey #3, Kathryn Westbeld #33 and Jackie Young #5 after scoring the game winning basket with 0.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to defeat the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the championship game of the 2018 NCAA Women's Final Four at Nationwide Arena on April 1, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs 61-58.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The reigning champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish received all 31 first-place votes in the Associated Press‘ preseason women’s college basketball poll for the 2018-19 season.

The Connecticut Huskies, Oregon Ducks, Baylor Lady Bears and Louisville Cardinals round out the Top Five.

Here’s a look at the complete AP poll:

1. Notre Dame (31)

2. Connecticut

3. Oregon

4. Baylor

5. Louisville

6. Mississippi State

7. Stanford

8. Oregon State

9. Maryland

10. South Carolina

T-11. Tennessee

T-11. Texas

13. Iowa

14. Georgia

15. DePaul

16. Missouri

17. NC State

18. Syracuse

19. Marquette

20. Texas A&M

21. Duke

22. South Florida

23. Arizona State

24. Cal

25. Miami (Fla.)

It’s no surprise to see the Irish atop the initial rankings as they return their core four players from last year’s title team.

Arike Ogunbowale led the way at 20.8 points per game during the 2017-18 campaign and was named the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Jessica Shepard (15.6), Jackie Young (14.5) and Marina Mabrey (14.4) also averaged double figures in scoring and return.

In September, head coach Muffet McGraw said during an appearance on the March Madness 365 podcast with Andy Katz (via the team must remain focused despite the hype.

“I think there is going to be a little bit of pressure, but most of it is self-imposed,” McGraw said. “When you listen to what is going on in the outside, it can affect you, so we’ve really got to stay together and concentrate on who is in the locker room.”

Notre Dame scored a 107-65 exhibition triumph over the Division II Lewis Flyers on Tuesday night and will tip off the regular season Nov. 9 against the Harvard Crimson.

The Irish’s main competition is expected to come from perennial championship contender UConn.

They faced off in last year’s Final Four, and Notre Dame scored a 91-89 overtime victory. They’ll meet again Dec. 2 in the Jimmy V Classic in what could be a preview of the 2019 title game.

Oregon, Baylor and Louisville headline the teams that hope to the crash the party, though.

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